By now, I’m sure you’ve seen all the headlines about multiple airlines canceling over 3,500 flights and delaying thousands more over the weekend.

According to FlightAware, the biggest U.S. airline culprits for cancellations and delays on Sunday, April 3 were:
-Southwest: 400 canceled flights (10% of their schedule) and delayed 1,459 (38%)
-JetBlue: 373 (34%) canceled and delayed 458 (42%)
-Spirit: 308 (37%) canceled and 243 (29%) delayed
-American Airlines: 271 (8%) canceled and 570 (18%) delayed
-Frontier: 85 (15%) canceled and 181 (33%) delayed
-Allegiant Air: 69 (14%) canceled and 155 (31%) delayed
-Alaska Airlines: 66 (8%) canceled and 148 (19%) delayed
-Delta: 41 (1%) canceled and 637 (21%) delayed
-United: 12 (0%) canceled and 334 (16%) delayed

In short, Alaska Airlines blamed a pilot strike, Southwest Airlines said it was a mixture of weather and maintenance of some backend technology. American, Delta, JetBlue and Spirit blamed the severe thunderstorms in Florida and air traffic control.

There’s no doubt there was some severe weather but it shouldn’t have messed up operations as badly as it did. That’s why I’m not buying JetBlue’s (and other airlines’) blame solely on severe weather. If the weather was so bad in Florida, then why did United Airlines only cancel three flights on Sunday out of the self-proclaimed Sunshine State? See screenshot below.

I think the real reason is because the airlines don’t have enough staff including pilots, gate agents and reservations agents because there’s no excuse having huge lines and hold times to speak to a customer service agent.

RELATED: How To Reach an Airline’s Reservations Agent Without Waiting

I know JetBlue used to be a fan favorite but they’re quickly losing customers thanks to how they mishandled their operations this past weekend.

My sister was one of those passengers affected by the delays and cancelations. She said that West Palm Beach Airport was a madhouse on Friday after they delayed her flight twice and then canceled it. There were hundreds of people in line and only three agents working. Call times to speak to an agent took over three hours (see photo above) and to get her checked bag back was just as bad.

TIP: Caught Up in This Weekend’s Airline Chaos? Here’s How To Reach an Airline’s Reservations Agent Without Waiting

My sister wasn’t alone. Here’s just a few of the comments from my readers:

Marie: Weather related is true but under staffing continuous delays for over 6 hours at airport is beyond No voucher for food no credit for future travel and wait time on phone also beyond Hire new help!!! Customer service is gone!!! Jetblue was always the best but they have declined immensely!!

Sarah O: Hire more people and pay them more and stop being victims of your stock holders and stock price…we are suffering and you will too!!! Jetblue used to be great, now its a disaster, 4 cancellations 4 Ubers to and from NYC airports and I’m still not home, missed two days of work in Palm Beach…so very unhappy. Their app sucks, their customer service sucks and their ground staff is uninformed and stupid…do they not realize that folks have flight checkers for all airports and over 25 flights landed in Palm Beach with no problem yesterday!! Radar shows 9 mile an hour winds, hahaha and no rain all day today…JB you just are losing it…Last ditch insult..my 9pm flight from JFK is now leaving after midnight..crew, plane here but no pilot! I’m canceling my JB credit card and flying delta and frontier from now on…unless you reimburse me for the 1K I lost this weekend in ubers, hotel and loss compensation. You think people are stupid, sad, and lazy but this is going to hurt! Peter Boneparth and Robin Hayes better wake up!

As a gesture of goodwill, JetBlue gave customers a $50 travel voucher for a future flight but they’re not covering hotels or transportation to or from the airport like other major airlines do when there’s an overnight delay.

One Twitter follower tweeted me: @Shrimedianet: “They’re blaming weather that doesn’t seem to exist. So therefore they don’t have to refund anyone.

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13 Comments On "If This Weekend's Airline Meltdown in Florida Was Because of Weather, Then Why Didn't United Cancel More Flights?"
  1. Christian Landon|

    Johnny,

    What is your source for claiming that Alaska Airlines is blaming a pilot strike for their cancellations and delays, as you stated in your article?

  2. Andy Kramer|

    I’d like to also point out that two of the UA flights coming from GYR were not passenger/revenue flights, but rather repositioning flights for maintenance. Really, UA only cancelled one flight.

  3. Judy|

    I as well as stuck in Fort Myers. Waiting for a Jet blue flight to Hartford, waited 6 hrs to find no pilot! At 1am flight was cancelled no apologies, reason and said pick up luggage at carousel 10. No one avail to rebook you, just left hanging no hotel, no car, no food! Nothing, poor customer service, Sunday’s flight cancelled as well no reason,

  4. Nathanael|

    What is wild to me is that it wasn’t mentioned on this article that American Airline as a huge hub in Miami, JetBlue has to hubs in Florida one in FLL, and one in Orlando thus an ATC hold or a weather meltdown in Florida are going to affect them the most. But ok.

  5. Z|

    No sweat off Spirit. Left us hanging Sat cancelation, rebooked on Monday to only cancel again on Monday. No reimbursement. Tough pill to swallow for a family of 5. Never again Spirit Airlines!

  6. Debra|

    Flew Southwest from PIT to MCO Monday night, and everything went smoothly BUT there were 2 employees working at full service check-in and one at bag drop, and most of the self-check in computers were down. It took us three times as long to check bags as it did to go through security.
    United seems to be able to attract more employees. I’m a frequent flier between MCO and IAD, and I’ve never had an issue with them. I don’t fly JetBlue often, but every flight I’ve ever been on with them has been delayed.

  7. Joy|

    I was supposed to fly SWA out of MCO Saturday night at 10:30…nonstop flight to Buffalo. Around 1pm, I decided to log on the app and check our flight status. CANCELED. (No mention of it being weather related.) No email, no text notification, nothing. Thank God I checked. Called customer service…72 minute wait time. Tried to change flight online, but nothing until Tuesday, and it said to go the ticket counter. We headed to the airport, I stood in line with probably 400 other passengers while my husband circled the airport in our rental car with our three young kids. Finally, after about an hour and a half, someone answered my call. She couldn’t tell me anything different, except that, since there were 5 of us, they wouldn’t be able to get us out until Wednesday. Oh, and she said the reason was due to air traffic control.

    I continued in the never-ending line, until I spoke with some others who had finally gotten to the front, only to say that SW wasn’t compensating anyone. Only offering a different flight, days later, or a refund in SW travel funds. No help with hotels, food, transportation, etc.

    We decided we had to drive 18 hours home. My husband couldn’t miss more work, the kids couldn’t miss school. So that 2+ hour wait in line was a waste. And then my husband had to wait over an hour to renew the rental car, while I drove the kids around.

    After all of that, on Sunday, while in nowhere, SC, my 8 year old fainted in a restaurant. We spent 4 hours in the ER for them to tell us she’s probably dehydrated (most likely form not drinking in the car…she gets extremely carsick.) While in the ER, my 3 year old fell of a stool and slammed her head on the ground so hard, they had to do X-rays. You can’t make this stuff up. It was awful. So overwhelming, so sad. We finally made it home Monday night around 11pm. Two full days later than we were supposed to. No one willing to help with the rental car fees, gas money, hotel stays, etc. and, now we will most likely have hospital bills to pay as well, all because of the drive.

    It’s the most frustrated I’ve ever been with SW. They were having technical issues. They blamed it on everyone else. They did nothing to make it right.

  8. Ezra|

    Based on your article that you provided Alaska Airlines pilots did not go on strike.

    “ In a previous version of this story, we incorrectly reported that Alaska Airline pilots were “striking” because of an ongoing contract dispute. That report was incorrect and we regret that mistake.”

  9. deborah singer|

    I was also caught in this MESS on sat. Was in Tampa flying to Milwaukee going home on SW. My flight was delayed from 3 to 5. then to 7 then to 10. So finally after waiting at the gate and seeing everyone on their phone trying to get rides, rooms, ect. I decided to call a hotel. well they were getting booked as fast as ever and the only close one I could get was a Double Tree for $365.00!!! Money I didn’t have to spend. I believe that was a jacked up price just because of what was going on. So I go down to baggage and waited 4 1/2 hrs to get my bag. People were sitting on the floor and luckily I had a wheel chair because they would have had to pick me up from the floor because I cannot stand that long. Got to hotel and called SW. Was on hold for 4hrs and finally hung up. At 4am I called again on hold for another 5hrs…. finally got through only for them to say no flights for 3 days… I have no money for hotels and food and I have to get home to work! I begged them to find a flight home and finally she got me on a flight Sunday night to St Louis and then on to Midway Chicago. My husband then drove the 2 1/2 hrs to pick me up. Got home Monday morning at 2:30… I am so mad that I have that hotel bill to now pay off. This was a big cluster F#@K!!!

  10. Anonymous|

    My family and I got stuck in Fort Myers… After a 5 hr delay due to shortages in staffing, they canceled the flight and told us to go to the ticketing counter for rebook or refund. Spirit airlines told us that it was air traffic control’s doing, not the afore mentioned staffing issue, this not making it a preventable reason to cancel and not giving ANYONE any compensation for hotels and transportation. It costed my husband and I $1500 for hotels, cars (yes, two to fit my party of seven), and food for a day and a half. Again Spirit delayed our flight and we got home two days after our initial plan to get home. I paid more for their cancelation issue than I did for all of the airfare. NEVER flying then again!

  11. Kate|

    We also got caught up in the mess in Fort Myers on Sunday night. After five hours in the airport due to delays our flight was cancelled around 10:30pm. Frontier simply handed out a paper with minimal information and sent us on our way. No instructions, no rebooking help, no nothing. Thankfully my parents were able to come back to the airport and pick us up. We then spent most of the night online trying to come up with a plan. Zero flights until Wednesday night, and those would cost over $900 each (there were four of us). Thankfully we were able to score a rental car and drive home, but still a full two days after we were supposed to be home. I haven’t reached out to Frontier yet because I need to calm myself down first. It was awful. No one has any accountability.

  12. Joanne Dudash|

    My sisters had. Flight from Orlando to Pittsburgh on Tuesday April 5th with Spirit that got cancelled. Had to drive them to Melbourne,FL to flight with Delta that was scheduled to leave at 7:30 pm. As soon as they got there at 5:30, flight was delayed 25 minutes, then 1 hour, then 3 hours. Finally left Melbourne around 12:30 am to connecting flight in Atlanta. Missed flight to Pittsburgh by 2 minutes. Delta was compensating passengers with Hotel rooms but when my sisters got through 80 plus people in line, their were no more rooms. Delta passed out blankets and they spent the night on the floor. 7:02 am flight didn’t leave until 8:30 am. They were frustrated, exhausted and disappointed.

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